Netflix for Learning

netflix

When Eddie was 3 months old and I was going back to work after maternity leave, Cortney was laid off from work. Cort spent his days being a stay at home dad, looking for work, and watching documentaries on Netflix. So many documentaries. And the topic really didn’t matter to him. He would watch films on subjects such as beer as well as fonts.

You think I’m kidding. He totally watched a documentary called Helvetica. Yes, it was almost 3 hour devoted to the history of a FONT.

He’s not the only one who loves to mix some learnin’ in with his TV watchin’. I’ve been known to camp out in front of Modern Marvel marathons myself. Remember when channels like History actually had shows about history of stuff on it?  Ah the good old days…thank goodness for Netflix!

I was going to try to list for you the documentaries Netflix has available, but then I spent almost 30 minutes falling down the rabbit hole of what is available and wanting to see about 50 of them.

So instead I’ll tell you the learning stuff the boys love.

JulyLittleKids

We went through a pretty heavy Busytown Mysteries phase here in Sluiter Nation. It was the go-to bedtime show. Recently Eddie and Charlie discovered The Magic School Bus which brings back fond memories for me.  I never watched the show, but my brothers had a lot of the books and when I babysat them, I read those books over and over. I think my mom still has them at her house.  I should try to find them.

As I type this, it is nap time for Charlie, and Eddie is watching Turtle: The Incredible Journey.  He claimed to know everything about turtles, but he is pretty entranced in watching all those baby turtles book it off the beach to the sea.

So you’ll have to excuse me. I’m going to shut down my computer now and watch about the lives of turtles with Eddie.

Share some documentaries or learning shows you and your family love!

crack the door

I started going to the chiropractor this summer (which is a whole post in and of itself). I’ve got the routine down pat: Go in the exam room, take off clothes from the waist up, put on gown, crack the door so the doctor knows you’re ready. There is even a little sign that reminds us: “Female patients: crack the door about a half inch when you are ready”.

I wondered a little bit what would happen if I forgot to crack the door. Would I just sit there waiting and waiting? Would someone knock? Or would it be up to me to open the door to let the doctor in?

Closed doors are sort of the international sign for “go away,” aren’t they?

When I don’t want anyone disturbing my class, I shut the door.

When Eddie and Charlie are not available to play with the neighbor kids, we shut the garage door.

When we need privacy in the bathroom, we shut the door.

When we want to keep someone out, we shut the door. When we are ready to have visitors, we open it.

door-cracked-open

I don’t think I ever really shut my heart to God, but I did close it far enough that the “crack” was barely visible. At least to human eyes. In all my youthful questioning, the door was never really shut. It was later, when loss seemed to be our new way of life that I started bumping the door to almost shut.

When Cortney lost his job, Eddie was 3 months old and colicky, and I was suffering from depression and anxiety, the door was as good as closed. I hadn’t pushed it all the way to latching, but I wanted nothing to do with a God who would take away so much from me and my family. One who seemed to want nothing but pain and hurt to wave over us.

If ever I was going to shut my heart’s door, it was then.

But for some reason I didn’t actually give it that last push. I didn’t allow it to latch.

And even though it appeared to everyone–including myself–that my heart was closed to church and God and anything having to do with religion, God knew it wasn’t really closed.

Over the past nine months, I’ve cracked my heart’s door. I’ve allowed some light to pour through. I’ve cautiously opened myself to new relationships with people, church, and Jesus.

That is not to say that I’ve flung my door wide open and am swaying to praise music with my arms in the air. No. I have questions. I have doubts. I wonder how my political and social views fit with the theology of the church.

I remain cautious as I continue to learn and grow in this newish faith. I carefully watch and listen as I am told that the church is called to be one, but to embrace diversity of all kinds. Disagreement doesn’t mean you’re kicked out.

So I have cracked the door to my heart to let the light in a little because I am ready.

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Don’t forget to join me tomorrow (Tue, July 15) at 8pm est for a twitter party with Imagine Toys! Follow #ImagineToys and learn about blogging opps, possibly win prizes, and have fun!

Imagine the Possibilities

One of Eddie’s favorite birthday gifts was a “sidewalk art” themed gift from his aunt MacKenzie and uncle Dave. It included sidewalk chalk, sidewalk paint, and sidewalk tattoos. There are two reasons he loves this gift: 1) it was artsy and he loves all things arts and crafts and 2) it was an outdoor activity.

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If it’s possible, Charlie likes outdoor play even more than Eddie does. As soon as he gets up in the morning he asks if we can go “houtside”. And once he’s “houtside”, just try to get him to come in.  Seriously.

"Charlie, it's time to come in." "no."

“Charlie, it’s time to come in.”
“no.”

It’s good though, this love of play–and outdoor play, specifically. My kids are getting fresh air, exercise, and a stretch of their imaginations. They run and laugh and make believe.

This is probably why partnering with Imagine Toys was so natural for me. All of their toys promote interactive family play and big imaginations! Their Kaboom! Collection is cool because it promotes outdoor play as well. Plus 8% of each Kaboom! toy sale goes to bringing outdoor play to the lives of all American children.

Imagine is also a small, women-run business and local to me here in Michigan (Battle Creek to be exact).  It’s like we were made to go together. Like peas and carrots.

Part of my working with them means that they are sending me to BlogHer in San Jose, California in a week and a half (I’ll be the hottie with the Imagine Toys gear on).

While I’m there I’ll be armed with some goodies for bloggers who are seriously interested in working with Imagine Toys. Have I piqued your interest? Want to know more?

GOOD!

Tuesday, July 15, I will be hosting a twitter party talking all about Imagine Toys, Kaboom, and how to get involved. I also get to giveaway FIVE sweet prizes:

 

I KNOW you want to join me, yes?

So mark your calendar for Tuesday, July 15th at 8pm EST and follow me (@ksluiter), Imagine Toys (@imaginetoys), and the #ImagineToys hashtag.  We will have a fun discussion about playing and toys and you can learn more about being an Imagine Toys Blogger…and maybe win something!

See you there!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I was not compensated for writing this post nor will I be compensated for the twitter party. Imagine Toys is sending me to BlogHer as a brand ambassador. US bloggers only are eligible for prizes and blogging partnerships. 

upgrading, yo.

Next week Cortney and I will be eligible for new phones per Verizon.

In normal people world that date might come and go and as they notice their phones getting slow and doggish they wonder, “huh, maybe I can get an upgrade?”

In Sluiter Nation where the tech geeks roam that date is on the dang calendar because NEW TECHNOLOGY AND GADGETS AND WEEEE!!!!

And to be fair I started crabbing about my Galaxy S3 being a dog a couple months ago. A couple updates made it better, but still. I get stabby when my stuff is slow.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I got to tour the new Verizon Smart Store and I got to talking to their PR about what nerds Cortney and I are and they offered to send me a couple devices just to try out. Even said I didn’t have to blog about them, but hey…I’m a nerd, so I’m sharing them with you.

Cortney and I were pretty sure we were going to upgrade to the S5, but Verizon sent me the HTC One to try out. I was skeptical.

2014-07-02 18.11.10

My first thought when I took it out of the box was “holy cats! It’s so big!”

It is just as thin (if not thinner) than my S3, but the screen is much bigger. The week or so that I used it I realized quickly I would need a case for it because it kept sliding out of my hand because it’s so shiny and new and slippery!

HTC One on the left, Cortney's S3 on the right.

HTC One on the left, Cortney’s S3 on the right.

It’s quite slick.

I liked quickness of everything (which I suspect the S5 will have too since my S3 is dying a slow, obsolete technology death), it’s interface (which was extremely similar to the Samsungs), and the weight.

My favorite part was the interactive home screen that I had Weather Channel, CNN, and other news feeds go to. I could check out all the news from the home screen of my phone! But with one swipe to the side, my home screen could also be a traditional one with all the apps on a background picture of my boys.

I like it.  I still want to check out the S5, but know I know there are some super great phones out there other than Samsung ones.

We also got to play with try out a Bose Soundlink Mini.

2014-07-06 14.44.32

I saw these when I was on the store tour, and I asked about them because Cortney and I had talked about getting a wireless speaker of some sort that we could use with phones or whatever.  Neither of us have tons of music on our phones currently because we never use it, but if we had a speaker we might.

This little speaker is amazing. In Cort’s words, “It really bumps!” For being so tiny that little sucker sure emits a LOT of sound.  Quality sound.

And it’s portable! We set it on it’s little charging station and then we could connect it via bluetooth (which means we could connect it to our computers as well as our phones) to Cortney’s phone. In no time, the Black Keys were serenading our dinner. And we could easily move it around because hello, lack of wires.

We immediately saw the potential for garage tunes, lawn tunes, and patio tunes.

So besides new phones next week, I’m pretty sure Cortney is going to start budgeting for one of these bad boys too.

Speaking of those phones…what do you have? Do you love it? I’m still leaning toward the S5, but I want to hold it and make sure, ya know?

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Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. I was sent the technology to experience with no requirement of needing to blog about it. I just did because I like to know what you think. Tech geeks unite, yo.

 

 

We’re On Each Other’s Team

Cortney and I have a really great relationship and strong marriage. It’s one of the things I am most proud of in this world and feel so grateful that such a wonderful friend ended up as my life partner.

We get asked a lot what they secret to our marriage is and if it’s really as awesome as we make it look online.

As someone who as dated her fair share of turds (and nice guys, but mostly turds), I wasn’t sure if there really was a guy out there who could make me feel like we were a true team.  Then Cortney and I found ourselves together.

I guess our secret is our teamwork.

There are other factors like that we are true friends, we have our own interests as well as shared interests, etc, but the big thing is teamwork.

And most of the time it’s as awesome as we make it look on social media.

Anyway, I am writing about that teamwork over at Mommy Miracles today. I’d be honored if you would give it a read.

Off He Goes

Dear Eddie,

When you were  a tiny baby some of the best advice I was given was by your pediatrician. She said, “You can’t make a baby eat or sleep, and you can’t make a toddler potty train until he’s ready. Let him take the lead.”

I’ll admit it’s hard for me to let someone else take the lead. I like to be in charge. When we had you, we were no longer in charge…the little charge we thought we had. You ruled our days and nights. You chose when you would hit your milestones.

You cried and wouldn’t sleep.

You cried and cried and cried.

But when you were ready to sleep, you did.

You decided.

IMG_1256

You still require one of us to lay by you each night after we read with you. You say you an’t sleep without us there so you can feel safe. I’ll take that because I know that one day, you will tell me I can go upstairs. That you’re “good”.

But sleeping in a big boy bed took zero transition.  We brought home a mattress before Grandpa even had your bed made and you requested to take your nap there.  You never went back to your crib again.

You decided.

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It was the same way with your pacifier.

You held onto that thing even when it had holes in it and we refused to buy you new ones.  Then, your friend Evan told you about the paci fairy and you started to think that getting a big boy present in return for turning in your “pipey” was a good thing.

You decided.

2013-01-19 13.15.24

Then came potty training.

We thought for sure we could get you potty trained before Charlie arrived.  You showed interest right after you turned two, and you were doing your number 2′s on the toilet almost exclusively.  Then Charlie came and you stopped caring about underpants or sticker charts or anything.

Until Althea showed up to daycare in big girl panties.  And she is a full year younger than you are. You looked right at Renae and declared yourself done with diapers.

And that was that.

You decided.

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Now you are five. You’ve been riding a bike since you were two. Your grandma bought you a tiny one from a garage sale (ok, the garage sale we were hosting), and you hopped on and took to it like a fish in water.

033

For your fourth birthday, we had to upgrade because  your legs grew about a mile from age three to age four.

In fact, we felt bad that you had to wait until almost the end of June because you were really just way too big for your old pal.

033This bike is a much better fit.

In fact, this bike quite easily takes you from our house up the hill to Kaydance and Carter’s house and back again.  It has taken you around the block with us as well.

You love your yellow bike.

2014-04-07 10.04.19

Early this summer, daddy asked you if you wanted to take your training wheels off.  You were a bit scared, but he helped you balance and learn to ride just through the grass.

But riding on the street seemed a little too scary. So daddy raised the wheels as far as they would go, and you kept riding. You weren’t even five yet, so we figured you would do it when you were ready, just like everything else.

Then one day, you came screaming down the hill at top speed on Carter’s bike.

Carter who is a whole year younger than you had his training wheels taken off a month ago.

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Carter came behind on your bike.

Out of breath, you ran up to daddy, “DID YOU SEE ME? NO TRAINING WHEELS!  Can you take mine off too?”

And then off you went.

You decided.

Daddy took them off, gave you a few quick reminders about safety, and off you went. I felt like I blinked and you went from a mushy baby to a kid riding a two-wheeler with the neighbor kids.

I stood there for a second watching you peddle off wondering how it all happened. Didn’t I get some sort of say about when you were ready for things? Isn’t that what part of parenting is?

You are teaching me so much about this parenting gig, Eddie.

You will do things on your own time, when you are ready, and I will always be there to cheer for you.

Love,

Mom

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Recently I was interviewed by Working Motherhood and my podcast is now live!  Go give me a listen!

My Other Ex

When I was a kid, I used to lie on my bed on Sunday afternoons and plow through one, maybe two books in an afternoon. Once I had read all the craptacular YA lit that our local library had to offer back in the late 80′s, my mom started bringing home Agatha Christie mysteries for me to read.  I was hooked. Before I even made it to high school I was a voracious reader.

I didn’t do a lot of my own writing back then, but I did fantasize about being a famous author.  Not so much that I would be a celebrity, but that I could think of stories like that.

Well, fiction has never been my thing, but at some point all this writing that I have done on my blog since 2007 started to be something. Something I didn’t know I had in me.

It started to be good.

Maybe I couldn’t make up stories, but I could definitely tell my own.

This year my dream of becoming a published author came true when Three Minus One came out.  In September more of my writing will be published.

I am one of the author’s in the HerStories Project anthology called My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friendships.

The book is due out in September, but you can pre-order here (which also means you’ll get your book early!  WOOT!), and get a $1 off by ordering early. Aw yeah.


Buy this on Selz
Sell digital downloads on Selz

Netflix For Me

netflix

Each month I get a little email about what theme we Netflix stream-team members can post about. There is always a little craft or snack or something we can do with the family too if we want.  But this month is all about the momma, and I have to say it came at just the right time!

Cortney and I just finished season 1 of Breaking Bad this weekend. We are not binge-watchers, but we do take in a couple episodes a week. I know it goes on for four more seasons but I keep thinking, “oh they are done for this time!”  So good!

breaking bad

On my list to watch with Cortney next is Orange is the New Black. I just finished reading the book and I am excited to watch the fictionalized version of the book. Piper Kerman’s memoir was so good, but I know the show is more over-the-top.

oitnb

 

Also on our list to watch is Freaks and Geeks. Our high school sociology classes watch this show and discuss it and the teachers are ALWAYS quoting it and talking about it in the lounge. Even though it’s only 18 episodes-long, I know I need to see it.

freaksandgeeks

And lastly, one that will probably be more interesting to me than to Cort, I want to watch Call the Midwife. This might have to be my “daycare day” show. On the days the boys are in daycare, I might have to carve out some “me time” to watch a show just for me. When Eddie was a baby, I would binge watch all the episodes (and movies) of Sex and the City, I think it’s time I upgrade, yes?

callthemidwife

While we LOVE Netflix for our kids (mine are watching Curious George as I type this), it’s fun to have some shows just for us adults too.

What else should be on my list?

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Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and will be sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. As a member of the Stream Team I was provided with a Roku and a voucher to apply towards my Netflix account. I was not otherwise compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

 

Through the Lens {June}

At the beginning of the year I decided to join my friends Greta and Alison and their year-long photography project called Through The Lens Thursday. You don’t need a blog to join in, just join our Flickr group and post each week! It’s great for practicing photography in a low pressure, fun way.

This month our prompts for Through the Lens were: sunset, deep, smooth, and imperfect

I used my 50mm for all of them.

prompt: sunset f/9.0, 1/20, ISO 100

prompt: sunset
f/9.0, 1/20, ISO 100

prompt: deep f/1.8, 1/250, ISO 100

prompt: deep
f/1.8, 1/250, ISO 100

prompt: smooth f/1.8, 1/250, ISO 100

prompt: smooth
f/1.8, 1/250, ISO 100

prompt: imperfect f/1.8, 1/80, ISO 100

prompt: imperfect
f/1.8, 1/80, ISO 100

How is it the end of June? Ugg.

Anyway, this month was challenging for me because I felt like I just didn’t have any good ideas or approaches to the prompt. Because of the trees, it was hard to get a typical sunset, I was lost on deep and smooth, and my imperfect birthday cake was a good idea, but turned out, well, imperfect.

June has been a bit of a let down as far as photography goes.

What do you think?

On Turning Five

Dear Eddie,

Today you are five.

Daddy jokes that you are now a handful as he holds up all the fingers on one hand. You roll your eyes at him and say, “Daaad,” and then give me the look as if to say, “is he serious?” And I laugh because we ALL know you were a handful long before turning five.

You are such a kid now.

Tonight you went to bed in your new spiderman jammies looking less and less like a chubby baby boy and more and more like a lanky kid. Your last bedtime as a four-year-old.

It was bittersweet to hug you and muss up your hair on your way to bed.

I can’t help but think about five years ago–the night before your birth–I was in labor, but I thought it was cramps.  Your dad made me eat a turkey sandwich sometime around 8pm (when you were heading for bed tonight).  That was the last thing I would eat until your were born the next day at 4:51pm.

do you see my face? I just fell in love with you.

do you see my face? I just fell in love with you.

I have been looking through photos of you all weekend. You have changed and grown so much in five years, and yet…in every picture, you are still the same boy. I can see your heart and soul.

your first birthday. Eddie eyes.

your first birthday. Eddie eyes.

your second birthday...I can't believe you are the same age as Charlie in this picture!  You still lean on the table like this.

your second birthday…I can’t believe you are the same age as Charlie in this picture! You still lean on the table like this.

your third birthday. This is you all the way, just smaller.

your third birthday.your signature smile. I love how happy you are.

Your fourth birthday. My little boy.

Your fourth birthday. My little boy.

And now you are five. We had your birthday party this weekend and for the first time invited all your neighbor friends because you have neighbor friends now!  Not just friends that happen because Daddy and I are friends with their parents, but friends you found and love to play with.

my big kid! same eyes. same smile. same sweet, kind boy.

my big kid! same eyes. same smile. same sweet, kind boy.

Sometimes our journey is difficult. There is frustration and yelling and crying.  I hope that is not what you focus on when you reflect on your childhood someday.

I hope you remember the family and friends who love you and surround you on your birthday.

I hope you remember our tradition of going to Red Robin Yum for your birthday.

I hope you remember the birthday cakes that I made from scratch at your request–last year lemon, this year white with strawberry frosting.

I hope you remember how excited I am for each of your birthdays, not because of gifts and cake and balloons (although those are fun), but because it’s a celebration of YOU. Of Edward Steven Sluiter.

Of the day I became a mom, your dad became a dad, and of the day you made us a family.  Your birthday is huge.

It is a celebration of you and of us.

And now you are FIVE.

You can read some words, you like chapter books read to you at bedtime, you think super heroes and curious George are equally cool, and you can ride your bike without training wheels.

You are going to start Kindergarten this year and learn to read and spell and do math.

You are going to start soccer and make new friends.

Five is a big deal, Eddie Bear.

You are a big deal.

I love you so so much.

and never lose your awesome sense of humor. It is my favorite.

and never lose your awesome sense of humor. It is my favorite.

Love forever,

Mommy

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